Iran City Guides - Ahvaz
Ahvaz, Shush (Susa), Choqa Zanbil, Shushtar
- large industrial city based on the nearby oilfields
- extremely hot in summer
- birthplace of poet Abu Nuwas
- within reach of Shush (ancient Susa), Shustar and Choqa Zanbil
- population one million plus
Ahvaz has little to recommend it as a tourist destination in its own right being a sprawling industrial city centred on the nearby oilfields of Masjed-e Soleiman. However, there is a good international class hotel, a few mosques of note and its possible to enjoy a boat trip on the Karun River.
Ziggarat at Chogha Zanbil
Entrance gate to the complex at Chogha Zanbil
Of more interest to tourists are the two ancient cities of Shush (Susa), Shustar and the ziggarat at Choqa Zanbil.
Shush (Susa) & Choqa Zanbil
Now a small, pleasant town, Shush (Susa; biblical Shushan) dates from 4000 years BC and was an strategic Elamite city and a regional capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The town also thrived in the Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian periods and was an important center of the Christian faith in the 4th century. The city was gradually abandoned during the Mongol invasions.
The ruins of ancient city site (small entrance fee) lie to the south of the modern town. At the entrance is the Chateau de Morgan, a fortress built to defend French archeologists working on the site at the turn of the twentienth century. The ruins of the ancient citadel include a bare 1 foot high (30cm) wall of the Palace of Darius dating from 521 BC and two huge stones from the base of the royal apadana (reception hall).
Shush's other main attraction is the Tomb of Daniel, the supposed final remains of the biblical, probably mythical, Daniel, an official in the service of King Darius (522-486BC). Ancient Shush, known as Susa, was also the birthplace of Esther - the biblical saviour of the Jews in the time of their captivity in 6th century BC. The town prospered as a Jewish pilgrimage site for over a thousand years throughout the first millenium until the arrival of the Mongols in the thirteenth century. The tomb visitors see today was built in 1871.
Choqa Zanbil & Haft Tappeh
The Elamite city of Haft Tappeh is a suggested primer for the ziggurats of Choqa Zanbil 25 km away. The ruins of Haft Tappeh ("seven hills") are now over 3,000 years old. The UNESCO-funded museum (admission fee) exhibits the main archaeological finds and offers an explanation of the ancient city and its excavation.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Choqa Zanbil (admission fee) includes a huge 105m-sided brick ziggurat of the Elamite period. The structure, built by King Untash Gal, served as a temple dedicated to the god Inshushinak, until its destruction in 640BC. The well-preserved brickwork contains cuneiform (the world's first alphabet) inscriptions. The site around the zuggurant contains evidence of the early qanat water channels that brought water from an incredible 45km away.
The pleasant, riverside city of Shushtar near to the ziggurat at Choqa Zanbil was an historic irrigation center and indeed the towns main attractions are its 700-year old waterchutes (admission fee). Shushtar also has a number of interesting imamzadehs (shrines) and mosques.
Access - Getting To Ahvaz
There are daily flights from Ahvas to Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad and international connections to Kuwait and Dubai.
There are buses to many destinations including Tehran (15 hours), Esfahan (14 hours), Hamadan (9 hours), Kermanshah (9 hours) and Khoramabad (6 hours).
There are also overnight trains to Tehran (approximately 15-17 hours).
Will Yong and Kazem Vafadari